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Internal Migration in the United States

  • Raven Molloy
  • Christopher L. Smith
  • Abigail Wozniak

This paper examines the history of internal migration in the United States since the 1980s. By most measures, internal migration in the United States is at a 30-year low. The widespread decline in migration rates across a large number of subpopulations suggests that broad-based economic forces are likely responsible for the decrease. An obvious question is the extent to which the recent housing market contraction and the recession may have caused this downward trend in migration: after all, relocation activity often involves both housing market activity and changes in employment. However, we find relatively small roles for both of these cyclical factors. While we will suggest a few other possible explanations for the recent decrease in migration, the puzzle remains. Finally, we compare U.S. migration to other developed countries. Despite the steady decline in U.S. migration, the commonly held belief that Americans are more mobile than their European counterparts still appears to hold true.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.25.3.173
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 173-96

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:3:p:173-96
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.3.173
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  1. Larry Long, 1991. "Residential Mobility Differences among Developed Countries," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 14(2), pages 133-147, August.
  2. Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko & Joseph Tracy, 2008. "Housing busts and household mobility," Staff Reports 350, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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  18. Larry Long & C. Tucker & William Urton, 1988. "Migration distances: An international comparison," Demography, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 633-640, November.
  19. Bruce Fallick & Charles A. Fleischman, 2004. "Employer-to-employer flows in the U.S. labor market: the complete picture of gross worker flows," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-34, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  20. P. Diamond, 1980. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Working papers 268, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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